Wigmore house in black and white

Wigmore House 10 Castle Street Thornbury

Members of the Prowse and Causton family were doctors in Thornbury over a very long period.

The Trade Directories show that Dr David Crawford Prowse lived at Wigmore House in Castle Street, Thornbury from as early as 1927.  However an Abstract of Title in the deeds of Wigmore House shows that it was not until 14th August 1930 that the property was conveyed to Dr Prowse from Dr Lionel Williams.

David Crawford Prowse was born in Bristol on 9th April 1899.  His father, Arthur Banks Prowse was a physician at Bristol Royal Infirmary and he had been born in Millbrook, Cornwall.  His mother was Margaret W. Mitchell from Scotland.  The 1901 Census shows the family living at 5 Lansdown Place, Clifton.  David was educated at Clifton College.  As Lieutenant he served in the First World War in the Royal Engineers from 1914 to 1922.  It was only after his war time service that he decided to follow his father’s medical career.

In 1925 David graduated in medicine at Bristol University and he married a fellow student, Dorothy Crellin in the September quarter of 1925 at St Mary’s Church in Leigh Woods near Bristol.  Dorothy was born 20 August 1898 in Cheshire.  Following their marriage David and Dorothy settled in Thornbury and later they both went into partnership with Dr Williams who owned Oriel House next door to Wigmore House.

The surgery was what is now Oriel Cottage 6 Castle Street used first by Dr Williams who owned it and then by Drs Williams and Prowse working together.  Dr Prowse’s daughter, Hilary Newton can recall the surgery there and as a young girl “helping” her parents to dispense the medicines.  Later, after Dr Williams retired, the surgery was moved to number 20 Castle Street.

Although it was never a surgery as such their home at Wigmore House was used by pre-NHS patients for out of hours consultations in the room on the left of the door.

David and Dorothy had three children, Roger born in May 1927, Alison born in 1929 and Hilary born in 1931.  All these children became general practitioners like their parents.

The records of the Thornbury Cricket Club show that Dr Prowse was very active in the cricket club and much appreciated by them.  The following thumbnail sketch was written about him by Edgar Mervyn Grace and we are grateful to Les Summerfield, the Cricket Club and Mike Grace for allowing us to use these notes:

“Dr D. C. Prowse joined the Club in 1926, and lived in Castle Street, where he practised as a G. P. A very useful lower order batsman, usually going in at no. 7, he made many good scores, especially when runs were needed, but his great value to the team was in his fielding, specialising at third man to the fast bowlers and deep mid-wicket to the slow ones.  Here he was very safe and brought off a great many fine catches, as well as saving a lot of boundaries.  Like the Skipper, he was frequently called away to attend to medical and surgical emergencies, but during his playing career he was a good and regular Committee man, devoting his energies for the benefit of the Club.”

We are grateful to Hilary Newton, the younger daughter of David and Dorothy Prowse for her descriptions of her life in Wigmore House.  Apparently the house had two cellars, one for wood and one for coal.  Hilary can remember that the coal cellar was prone to flood and she can clearly recall being sent down into the coal cellar to fetch the coal wearing a swim suit in winter as it was so wet down there.

The children were initially taught in Stokefield House by a governess of the Dutsons.  They then went to a private school at Knole Park in Almondsbury.  Hilary can recall travelling by bus between Thornbury and Almondsbury aged six and once getting on the wrong bus and ending up near Aust.

In war time an officer was billeted on the Prowse family at Wigmore House and he stayed with the family for perhaps as long as eighteen months.  He was at Kyneton House with his troops during the day and he had a bat man to look after his uniform, but he did not stay in the house.

David and Dorothy Prowse were very busy during the war.  The troops who arrived in camps at the Pithay near Thornbury Castle and at Alveston had no proper Medical Officer and so David Prowse became the acting M.O.  This considerably enlarged the practice of the two doctors.

In 1959 David and Dorothy Prowse retired to Sidmouth in Devon but they returned to Thornbury in 1972 and moved into 20 Castle Street.  They appear in the Electoral Registers of 1975 at this address.  David Prowse died on 3rd February 1976. Dorothy Prowse died in 1982.

When the site of the old Thornbury workhouse and hospital was redeveloped, the name of Prowse Close was chosen to mark the family’s long association with medical care in Thornbury.

Roger Prowse, went to school in Malvern and in Sherbourne in Dorset.  He studied medicine in Cambridge and as a student doctor at St Mary’s Paddington, where he met Mary to whom he was married for 53 years.  Having worked at first in Weston Super Mare, Roger joined his parents in their practice in Thornbury and continued working as a GP in Thornbury for many years.  Roger and Mary lived at “Stevelands” in Gloucester Road in Thornbury.  Roger died in October 2003.  In 2004 the Gazette in Thornbury had an article about Roger Prowse.  Roger’s son Laurie had published a volume of his father’s poetry called “Diamond Shore” in aid of the Royal National lifeboat Institution of which Roger Prowse had been a life member.

Hilary Prowse.  Hilary grew up in Wigmore House during the Second World War and has shared with us some of her memories of that time.  Some of these appear on the BBC website WW2 ‘The Peoples’ War’.  Hilary followed the family tradition of becoming a doctor and then married Brian Newton.  He was a shipping agent and so he and Hilary spent a long time in Kenya where she worked in a hospital and in Tanzania which she liked less.  They had two children whose early school years were spent in Africa.  The children late came to England for schooling.

Dr Newton used the flat in number 20 Castle Street in Thornbury when she returned to England to visit her family and her children in their later schooling in England.  She moved into the flat and then the whole house where she was joined by her husband on his retirement from his business.  Brian died soon after his retirement and Hilary left number 20 in 2002.

Hilary appears in the 1980 Electoral Register as a resident of 20 Castle Street with her children, Lindsay Newton and Paul Newton.

Alison Prowse married John Causton in the March quarter of 1954.  In 1959 David and Dorothy Prowse retired and John Causton went into partnership with Dr Roger Prowse in Thornbury.

Also in 1959, on September 21st, the ownership of Wigmore House was conveyed from Dr Prowse to his son in law Dr John Causton.  In the 1960s Thornbury expanded rapidly and the practice grew to include Dr John Whallett and their wives, Dr Alison Causton and Dr Diana Whallett, later joined as part time partners as their children grew older.

In 1965 Drs Prowse, Causton and Whallett decided to move to the newly built Health Centre in Eastland Road in Thornbury.  Dr Alison Causton retired in 1990 and her husband Dr John Causton in 1991.  Dr John Causton died in July 2004.  Dr Alison Winter Causton died 11th March 2011.